New rules to know before heading to the pollsBeginning with the Feb. 21 spring primary, Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law will be in effect. Things have changed significantly since the last time you voted and it is my hope that all the citizens of Wisconsin have access to the information they need so everyone’s constitutional voting rights are upheld.
By: By Rep. Nick Milroy, Superior Telegram
Beginning with the Feb. 21 spring primary election, Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law will be in effect. Things have changed significantly since the last time you voted and it is my hope that all the citizens of Wisconsin have access to the information they need so that everyone’s Constitutional voting rights are upheld. Here is a step-by-step account of the changes to make sure you are prepared before heading to the polls.
Voter Registration: Under the new law, you can still register on Election Day. As usual, you will need to show a proof of residence. There are several documents accepted, including a paycheck, bank statement, or utility bill within 90 days of the election. The Voter ID law also requires that you have lived at your current address for at least 28 consecutive days. Previously, this was 10 days. Registration can also occur in person at the municipal clerk’s office until the Friday before the election.
Showing a photo ID at the polls: Before receiving a ballot, a voter will be asked to state their name, must show an acceptable photo ID, followed by signing the poll book. Photo ID’s accepted include a driver’s license issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), a Wisconsin DOT-issued ID card, Military ID card, certificate of naturalization, an ID card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe, a US passport and an unexpired DOT issued driving receipt or ID card receipt. Students ID’s are accepted from a Wisconsin-accredited university, college or technical school. Along with the student ID, a document showing proof of enrollment must be provided. If you have a student ID, it must have the date of issuance, signature, and an expiration date not later than two years after the date of issuance.
Getting a free Voter ID: Wisconsin law now requires that the DOT provide free ID’s to individuals who do not have one of the nine acceptable photo ID’s and is at least 18 years old on the date of the next election. To receive this voter ID card, you must request it for the purposes of voting. If you go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and make the request, personnel MUST provide you with an ID as long as you have a birth certificate proving your identity. Make sure to accommodate ample time if you need to find your birth certificate or need to obtain one.
If you do not bring an ID to your polling place: An elector who appears to vote at a polling place and does not have statutory ID will be offered the opportunity to vote a provisional ballot. An elector who votes a provisional ballot may furnish statutory ID to the election inspectors before the polls close or to the municipal clerk no later than 4 pm on the Friday following the election.
Absentee Voting: As of January 1, 2012, a valid photo ID must be provided when voting by absentee ballot, unless you are part of a group exempted by statute, or allowed to satisfy the requirement by other means. However, once photo ID is provided, the voter no longer has to provide this proof on subsequent absentee ballots, until they re-register (due to name or address changes).
Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law, which the National Conference of State Legislatures cites as one of the most strict in the nation, will have an impact on all citizens of voting age in our state. I am strongly opposed to this policy because I believe that many Wisconsinites will be disenfranchised on Election Day. Already we are hearing stories from people around the state about their negative experiences with this new law, and how it cripples their ability to vote.
Ruthelle Frank, 84, may have to pay as much as $200 to get a new birth certificate due to a mistake on her certificate at the time of her birth. No one should have to pay any sum of money to exercise their American right to vote.
While Republicans argue that this law is intended to fight fraud in our elections, no significant proof of any such fraud has been brought forward. Instead, countless numbers of elderly voters, young voters, students, minorities, and low-income voters are being disenfranchised and prevented from exercising their Constitutional right to engage in the democratic process.
Despite my objections to Voter ID, it is unfortunately now law. The thing we must do at the present time is to make sure that we, as a society, are well informed and prepared to meet this new burden to exercise our right to vote on Election Day.
Your best resource is the Clerk of your municipality or county. If you need assistance in determining who that individual is, feel free to contact my office by emailing me at Rep.Milroy@legis.wi.gov or by calling (608) 266-0640 or (888) 534-0073 (Note: Toll-free number will only work if using a Wisconsin-based phone line).
The Government Accountability Board has also set up a website to answer questions about the new law. Please visit: http://bringit.wisconsin.gov or http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id. You may also call 1-866-VOTE-WIS or contact the GAB Help Desk at (608) 261-2028 or toll-free at (800) 947-3529.